Tokyo—A Rio Olympics veteran with her own dreams of glory will be standing in the way of Nesthy Petecio, who will try to assure the Philippines of a silver medal Saturday (Philippine time) in the 54-57kg boxing competition of the Summer Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena here.
Already assured of a bronze here, Petecio tries to go deeper into the tournament when she fights the taller Testa Irma of Italy at 12:39 p.m., eyeing a win that will put her into the gold-medal round.
Irma is a copycat of tournament topseed Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-Ting, who has already been eliminated by Petecio. The police-in-training Italian has made it her mission to bounce back from being knocked out in the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
But the Philippine camp is equally motivated.
“We have a game plan on the next fight. The Italian girl weighed 60kgs. She’s similar with the Taipei girl, but she hooks and sways back. So we’re gonna take a counteract move, but I’m comfortable with Nesthy’s performance,” said Philippine Olympic Team’s boxing coach Don Abnett of the Italian, who has gone down in weight to fight in the featherweight division.
On Wednesday, Petecio barged into the semifinals with an emphatic 5-0 victory over former tormentor, Colombia’s Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda in a dominant win matched by the Italian after whipping her Canadian foe Caroline Veyre.
Only two wins separate Petecio from the Philippines’ first boxing gold ever, but don’t tell that to the veteran 30-year-old champion of the 2019 AIBA World Championship in Russia.
“Isa-isang laro lang po muna, baka madapa tayo,” cautioned Petecio, who nevertheless is pumped up by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s golden conquest five days earlier.
“Sobrang na-inspire po ako kay Hidilyn. Hinintay ko po talaga na matapos ‘yung laban niya. Sobrang saya po namin, sobrang proud kami kay Hidilyn. Jump high po,” said Petecio.
Meanwhile, Carlo Paalam is expected to use the same game-plan of his 4-1 win over Ireland’s Brendan Irvine when he fights Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi earlier at 10:48 a.m. (Philippine time).
“Carlo’s opponent is a very experienced boy. He’s boxing in the WSB (World Series of Boxing),” said Abnett of Flissi. “But Carlo’s gonna get moving, similar to the game plan that he did in his last fight, he’ll probably just continue with that. If it’s working, then we won’t change it.”
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